UPND president Hakainde Hichilema has described the PF regime as “a government of thieves” and has called on Zambians to wake up and see it for what it truly is.
Commenting on revelations by a US based Environmental Investigation Agency that warns that if the powerful ‘Mukula Cartel’ is not derailed, the rosewood species may soon be extinct in Zambia, Hichilema charged that the current government was a syndicate of institutionalised criminals “hell bent on stripping national resources to the core.”
In a report released on Thursday, EIA implicates President Edgar Lungu, his daughter Tasila, justice minister Given Lungu, lands minister Jean Kapata and Senior Chief Nkula (Kafula Musungu II), among other influential figures in the “mukula cartel”.
The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) says in Zambia, the trade of freshly cut mukula logs has not stopped despite a myriad of public announcements and commitments by senior officials, several of them personally involved in the trade.
The agency stated that the illegal trade generates approximately US$7.5 million paid annually in bribes and informal “fees” as traffickers described to investigators.
According to the traffickers met by EIA undercover investigators, prominent figures of the Zambian government and political sphere, including President Lungu, his daughter Tasila, Lubinda and Kapata were central figures in the illicit network.
But Tasila told the EIA that: “I have not at any juncture been involved in either of the alleged criminal transactions. This kind of reporting is highly regrettable.”
State House on Friday referred journalist to Kapata who addressed the media and she dismissed the report and threatened News Diggers newspaper for publishing the story.
On his part, senior chief Nkula confirmed President Lungu gave him 100 containers to export but only did 42 before the permit was cancelled.
The Chinsali chief is perplexed that Chinese and others had gone to his chiefdom cutting other species of trees.
Commenting on the report, Hichilema the report says everything people needed to know about the sustained push by government to sell ZAFFICO.
“The Mukula smuggling scandal as report…released by the Washington DC based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), implicating Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, his daughter Tasila, the Minister of Justice Given Lubinda, and his Lands counterpart Jean Kapata, says everything that people need to know about the sustained push by government to sell ZAFFICO. It was always about smuggling Mukula and the mineral deposits under ZAFFICO land and now the scam has been exposed by experts,” he said.
He added that what was in the report was what was already known about the Mukula smuggling scam.
Hichilema said the various testimonies in a video circulated on social media were staggering and heart-breaking accounts of recklessness and criminal impunity by the PF government.
“What we have been warning people about in the past has today been revealed in detail and brought to the fore.
What we read in this report is exactly what we already knew about this mukula smuggling scam, but the testimonies from the government officials, smugglers and their Chinese handlers contained in the circulating video are staggering and heart-breaking accounts of recklessness and criminal impunity by people who have been entrusted to govern our country,” said Hichilema.